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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 26, 2011 9:00am-11:59am EDT

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senate floor, that senator paul and others were denied the opportunity to offer amendments that would have brought up legitimate debate about the patriot act. there are a number of things we would have liked to learn more about, arguments we heard from senator paul here today but unfortunately there has been a small amount of time. it is stunning that the majority to let the patriot act expire rather than give senator paul a few amendments. that is the extraordinary situation for a senate that considers itself the most deliberative body, the most important piece of legislation that we would consider it is jammed up against a break with no opportunity. a lot of the things you are talking about an important we
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would consider, they won't be considered. doesn't sound like your debate will be allowed. for the amendments to be considered, it sounds like what they're going to try to do is blame you for us voting weight or early, i commend you for standing for good judgment and common sense but something of this importance whether we agree or disagree with the amendments is not the point. it is too important to be handled this way. thank you for what you are doing. >> not only are we not debating the patriot act. do you think we have given sufficient for time to amendments and proposals to deal with the debt problems? >> you know the answer to that. some of us reserve some time from 2:30 to 3:30 for some give and take and debate on the floor
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about the budget amendments or budget votes this afternoon. that time was cancelled by the majority. we have an impending debt that everyone besides this body here seems to understand. the majority has not produced a budget and over 700 days, to move forward on this important point of raising the debt ceiling, which none of us want to do, we need to balance the budget. the majority leader has said these issues are off the table. it is very frustrating, the debt ceiling, the patriot act, spending weeks for doing nothing, bringing up in some cases controversial judges that
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should not have been nominated in the first place. others spending day after day of floor time and not bringing aboard the issues. we are concerned here. i know america is concerned. thank you very much for the willingness to bring out the point that we have something here that is important to our security and the privacy of every american. it needs to be debated and amendments need to be offered yet this has been the night after a promise. i will encourage you to continue and thank you for your courage. >> one other question, we don't necessarily agree on the patriot act but even for those who feel it is important that it not expire why would they not consent to some debate? are asked for three votes in the next hour, we could debate and have that done and there would be no expiration of the patriot act for those who think it is a
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problem. >> you had 11 amendments you would like to consider. you are willing to compress the time to do that expeditiously. they wouldn't agree to that. willing to compromise for three amendments. doesn't sound like they want you to offer those because they don't want to take a vote on some of that may expose what they really believe. it is a frustrating situation for you and as our majority friends like to do, try to blame the problem on us. within a few hours this could be decided handover. we could pass the patriot act. folks could vote for or against what we want. it could go to the house and it would be done. it does appear the majority is willing to let this important legislation laps just to keep you from offering a few amendments. that is an extraordinary situation. thank you for yielding and i
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appreciate your getting this debate on the floor. >> i don't quite grasp that we are so fearful of debate and they're willing to let the patriot act expire in order just to prevent debate and prevent votes. a sticking point turns out to be an amendment basically on preventing gun records from being sifted crew under the patriot act. people say what if a terrorist is selling guns illegally? could we get them? we get them the way we get everyone else. ask the judge for a warrant. judges did not turn down wards. it has worked for 225 years until the patriot act and we have a process. the fourth amendment protect us from an overzealous government but also worked to catch criminals. i would like to yield the floor to my good friend from utah. >> mr president.
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>> senator from utah. >> i think the senator from kentucky for standing up to fourth amendment principles articulated today. this is an important issue to americans. concerned about our national security. they want to make sure we can identify and apprehend those people who would harm us. at the same time americans are committed to the idea of constitutionally limited government. the concepts regardless how passionately we might feel about the need for certain government intervention. we can't allow government to be operating completely unfettered. we have liberty in place when government is controlled by the people and when there are certain things that are beyond reach of the government. senator paul has helped identify key areas of concern that have been implicated by the patriot act and he has suggested that we ought to at a minimum have a robust debate and discussion over some amendments that might be proposed before we proceed. three months ago we had a
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discussion, we had a vote and there were a few of us who voted against the patriot act not because we don't love america. we want to protect america. we voted against it because we love america. we believe in constitutionally limited government. we want to make it better. we want to make this something that can protect americans without needlessly trampling on privacy interests including many of those privacy interests protected by the fourth amendment. bad things happen when we adopt a law without adequately discussing its merits. years ago when the patriot act was adopted there were a number of people who raise privacy concerns and for that and other reasons congress made the decision way back then almost ten years ago to adopt the patriot act and about certain provisions of it subject to some sun setting provisions. congress would periodically requested debate and discuss
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these provision the. does no good if every time it comes up we are told you have to vote for or against it. you can't debate or discuss or consider amendments to it. we were told three months ago that in may towards the end of may and we are here, we have an opportunity to debate, discuss and consider amendments. that opportunity has been taken away and with it the chance to address many of these important privacy implications many of which do implicate the fourth amendment in one way or another. senator paul referred to some of them including the implications of a national security letter which while not directly implicated by the expiring provisions at issue right now are inextricably intertwined with other issues in front of us including those related to section 215 and including the rope and wire tap issue that is up for reauthorization. i speak in support of the idea of robust debate and discussion
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especially where as hear it relates to something that is so important in the american concept of limited government, so related to fourth amendment interests we ought to have robust debate, discussion and opportunity for an amendment and i thank senator paul for his leadership in this regard. >> mr. president. >> senator from kentucky. >> when we look at this debate and talk about exactly where we should go from here and why it is important, it is important to look at the patriot act and say to ourselves how we protect our constitution if we are not willing to protect all parts of it? so many conservatives are avid for the second amendment. i want to protect the second amendment. but i tell those who want to protect the second amendment that you can't protect the second amendment if you don't believe in the first amendment. if you don't believe in the first amendment you can't have
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that voice it will take. if you want to place limitations on groups advocate gun ownership of the second amendment that will limit the second amendment but likewise you cannot protect the second amendment if you don't believe in the fourth amendment. there is no reason we should allow government to look at our gun records and to fall through all of these. if you think someone is a terrorist, name that person, name the place and show me probable cause. do we want to allow government to troll through our records? the government has looked at twenty-eight million electronic records. twenty-eight million. they are sifting through all of our records looking for things. are want them to catch terrorists but i want them to use some ability to look at the constitution a news summary strange to say this person is a terrorist or we suspect and to be so for this reason. we need not be so frightened
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that we give up our liberty in exchange for security. some would say our government is full of good people and i am not doing anything wrong and don't have to worry about it. you are not worried about good government. you are worried about bad government. jefferson said if all men were angels we would have no concern for having constitutional restraint. but there have been times in our history and the history of other countries where unsavory characters have won elections. when hitler was first elected in the 1920s and a 30s he was elected popularly. they were so upset over world war i that they traded. they said we want a strong leader. give us a strong leader. but the thing is if you have rules that allow that strong leader to grab up and do things that is your real danger. your danger is at a minimum now,
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it is a great danger to us if we allow this to go on if we get a despotic government at some point in time. you are not worried about good people in government. you are worried about people who might be elected who would abuse these powers. it happens. look at what happened during certain administrations where people look that irs records of enemies. look what is happening now where the executive branch is looking at donor records for those who do business with government. if you are a contractor they want to know who you donate to. there are dangers to allow the government to snoop for your records. doesn't mean we don't want to stop terrorism. it means we need to have a rule of law. we need to pay attention to the rule of law. we propose several amendments. one of them went through the judiciary committee, was the liberated on, was amended, passed with bipartisan support but we won't get a vote on it.
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it disappoints me that they are afraid to debate this on the floor and we will get no votes are amendments that were offered to try to reform the patriot act to take away some of the abuses of it. we offered three amendments to the patriot act. one was on the gun records. that apparently unhinged people who are afraid of voting on any gun issues and because of that we are all going to be denied any debate in votes and some say you'll keep your colleagues until 1:00 in the morning. when they are here tonight at 1:00 in the morning maybe they will think a little bit about why they are here and why we had no debate and we had power to have the debate at any point in time, i have agreed and said we could have a vote on the patriot act in an hour or two hours. wantuld have had a vote on the debate and amendments.
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that is the least the american people demand and this body demands there be open and deliberate debate about the patriot act. one of our other amendments has to do with destroying records. some of these records they take to the banks spying on you or the government spying on you. they are not destroyed. these records should be at some point in time. if you're not a terrorist why are they keeping these records? there ought to be rules on the destruction of these records if you are not a terrorist and they are not going to prosecute feel. the fourth amendment says he should name the place and the person. we have john doe. they don't name the place for the person. they are not required to. i think we should. archives it might be a terrorist we say we don't want to name the person. we don't have to name them in public but just to the advisory commission. i did not object to them being named and unnamed being redacted.
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it should be presented to the judge who is making the decision and i want judges to make the decision. james otis, part of our revolution for the 20 years leading to the american revolution was a debate about lawrence. we issued written assistance. there also called general warrants. there were not specific. they did not tell you what crime you were accused of and soldiers came into your house, they would large soldiers in our houses and enter without warning. the fourth amendment was a big deal. we passed the fourth amendment and it was one of the primary grievances of our founding fathers. i don't think we should give up so easily. i don't think we should be cowed by fear and so fearful of attack that we give up our liberties. if we do we become no different than the rest of the countries that have no liberties. our liberties are what make us different from other countries. the fact that we protect the
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rights even of those accused of a crime. people say a murderer will get a trial. yes, they get a trial because we don't know there are a murderer until we convict them. we want procedural restraints. people say you give procedural restraints for terrorists? i would give the very least a judge has to give permission before we get records. the main reason is we are not asking for ten records or 20 records or 40 records of people connected to terrorism. we are asking for millions of records. there are people in this room today who have had their records looked at. difficult to find out because what happened, this is how fearful they were, when the patriot act was passed shortly after 9/11 they were so fearful that they said if a letter, a demand letter asks for records you are not allowed to tell your attorney. if you told your attorney they
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could put you in jail for five years. it is still a crime punishable by five years in jail if i have an internet service and they want my record on somebody, they don't tell me or a judge, there is no probable cause, the person might be relevant which could mean anything, however tangential. if i don't reveal those records i go to jail. if i tell my wife they're asking for my records i could go to jail. this secrecy on millions of records is trolling through millions of records, is un-american. it is unconstitutional. they have modified the constitution is statutory law, we have given up our rights. this should be two thirds of the body voting to change the constitution and three fourth of the state and we did it by 50% with one bill. there was one copy of it.
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no one read it. we must read the bill. i propose we wait one day for every 20 pages to ensure they are reading the bill. the patriot act is hundreds of pages and nobody read it. not one person read it because it wasn't even hardly printed. there were canceled at its in the margin and was passed because we were afraid. we can't be so afraid that we give up our liberty. it is more important than that. is a sad day today in america that we are afraid to debate this. great constitutional questions like this or whether or not we can go to war with just the word of the president, great constitutional questions are not being debated because we are so fearful of debate. i urge the senate to reconsider. i urge the senate to consider debating the patriot act. and consider the constitution.
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thank you. i yield back. >> national security of the united states is at stake. the junior senator from kentucky is complaining about amendments. let me take a moment to set the record straight. as all of us are aware, i worked long and hard to get an agreement to consider amendments. i offered a solution that is more than fair. i propose the senate agreement would have brought before the senate six amendments. more than half of which, specifically four written by the senator from kentucky. in order to continue political grandstanding he rejected that offer. it is unfortunate because the inability to reach an agreement has serious consequences. at midnight tomorrow the patriot act will expiry unless the senator from kentucky stops standing in the way, our law enforcement will no longer be
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able to use critical tools to counter terrorists and combat terrorism. if they cannot use these tools, tool that identify and track terror suspects, could have dire consequences for national security. when the clock strikes midnight tomorrow we will be giving terrorists the opportunity to plot attacks against our country and protected. in the last several years the government has stopped dozens of would-be terrorists before they could strike. now the senator from kentucky is threatening to take away the best tools for stopping them. does this mean the patriot act is perfect? of course not. but today the republican leader and i received a letter from james clapper, a three star retired general from the united states military, director of national intelligence. he knows better than any of us the real effect of letting terrorists fighting tool expire. in his letter he wrote about our ability to conduct surveillance
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on foreign radical, track purchases of bombmaking materials and other classified programs. all of these would expire with the patriot act if we let it expire. this is a bad time to shut down electronic surveillance programs. as has been widely reported in the press we recovered thousands of documents, photos, video and other material from osama bin laden's compounds. this leads to new terror suspects and terrorist activities directed toward the united states of america. it continues to yield more information every day. if the senator refuses to relend the government will be unable to pursue these leads. that would increase the risk of a retaliatory tariff strike against the homeland and hamper our ability to deal a fatal blow to al qaeda. i repeat director clapper, three
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star general asked us not to allow a moment's interruption in the intelligence community's ability to affect the american people. some may be asking why? why does the senator kentucky hold out? what is keeping him from accepting an agreement to move forward, one that i think is more than fair to him and the senate? a couple strong democratic amendments and fifth amendments, four number. the reason is he is fighting for an amendment to protect the rights not of average citizens that terrorists to cover up their gun purchases. we all remember the tragedy of fort hood and less than two years ago. a radicalized american terrorist bought guns from a texas gun store in used them to kill 13 innocent soldiers and civilians. hard to imagine the senator from kentucky would want to hold up
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the patriot act for misguided amendment that would make america less a. the senator from kentucky complain the senate has not had a week of debate. we all would like to have more debate on this issue. the presiding officer would. we would like debate on other things. presiding officer is one of the senator's efforts earlier in this session to make sure we have more robust debate. we made a little progress but not enough. the center containing we have not had a week of debate better have something better than that. here is why. this has been before the senate for one week now. i move to recede the patriot act last thursday. today is wednesday. as of today the senate has been working toward passing this measure for six or seven days. perez no question senators had the opportunity to they day.
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the only question is how senators chose to use these last days. the bottom line is no longer how long it takes to get there we have the soul and the vote will win. we will pass the patriot act and do everything we can to keep the american people safe. it is up to the senator from kentucky whether those national security programs will expire before you get a chance to vote. the expiration date is extremely important and if he thinks it will be a badge on his side to help us out for a few hours he has made a mistake. it will set the program back significantly and that is too bad. the clock is ticking and the ball is in his court. >> that is a response to a scurrilous accusation. i have been accused of wanting to allow terrorists to have weapons to attack america. to be attacked of such a belief when i am here to discuss and
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debate the constitutionality of the patriot act is offensive. i find it personally insulting and i think it the means the body. the senate body and the people that we can't have an intelligent debate over a constitutionality of this. i am somehow to be told that because i believe a judge should sign a warrant that i am in favor of terrorists having weapons? the absurdity of it, the insults of it. if one argues that judges should sign warrants before they going to the house of an alleged murderer are you in favor of murder? can we not have a debate on a higher plane? a debate over whether or not there should be some constitutional protections, constitutional procedure but to come to the floor and accuse me of being in favor of giving weapons to terrorists? the question is can our
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constitution withstand, is our constitution strong enough that we could capture terrorism, captured terrorists and protect our liberties at the same time? should we have some rules that say before they come into your house, before they go into your banking records that a judge should be asked for permission? that there should be reviewed this review? do we want a lawless land? do we want a land that is so much without restraint, government without restraint that at any point they come into your house leaders the we were worried about that. that is why our country was founded on principles such as the fourth amendment to protect us from an overzealous government but to transform an argument where good people might disagree into an accusation that i would let terrorists have weapons, i believe we would stop terrorism but do it in a constitutional fashion where you would have a warrant issued by a
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judge. they say we don't have time to do that. and 3:00 in the morning judges are routinely called when someone is accused of rape or murder. when there is an alleged crime we get warrants and it has worked for 225 years until we decided to throw out the constitution. we throughout the constitution with the patriot act because we changed the constitution not by two thirds of the body voting for a but by 51% who threw out their liberties. they said make me safe. i want to be safe but they gave up their liberties. i think it was a mistake and i think we should have an intelligent and rational discussion over this but i don't think it furthers the debate to accuse someone who has constitutional concerns about the way we are doing things to accuse them of being in favor of putting weapons into the hands of terrorists.
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i object strongly to this. the leaders said they would compromise. they said one week of debate in february and open amendments. they would be open to amendments, even amendments they disagree with. whenever people feel is appropriate on this bill. that doesn't mean just in amendments that are not emotional or that have nothing to do with guns. they are petrified to vote on issues of guns because they know that a lot of people know that americans favor the second amendment's own guns and want to be protected to the right to own guns and the right to have those records not sifted to by the government. we don't want a government that will allow for direction of the police towards those who own guns. we don't want records to the public. we don't want records to be sifted through by a government without judicial review. they don't want to vote on this because they know the american people agree with us and if you
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polled this question you will find 90% of americans don't want their banking records, to be sifted through by a government without a judge ever giving approval to this. this is a constitutional question and i would ask the leaders to stand by his agreement to open amendment process. so at this time i will ask unanimous consent that my amendment, number 363, 365, and 368 be in order and within one hour of debate be followed by roll-call vote and i ask unanimous except -- consent at this time. >> the senate is about to dabble in for the day. more work on a bill to extend certain provisions of the anti-terrorism law that are set to expire just after midnight tonight. at 10:00 a.m. members will take a procedural vote on the bill with the final passage vote later today or tomorrow.
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live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. author of life, who put into our hearts such deep desires that we cannot be at peace until we rest
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in you, mercifully guide our lawmakers on the path of your choosing. may your holy word be for them a lamp and a light in these challenging times. lord, keep them mindful of the importance of being men and women of integrity, striving to please you in all of their labors. make them people of principle who share a strong vision of a godly nation with a promising future. may their humility match your willingness to help them and their dependence on you liberate
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them from anxieties about what the future holds. we pray in your strong name. amen. the presiding officer: join me in reciting the pledge. of al legiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., may 26, 2011. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable tom udall, a senator from the state of new mexico, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore.
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: following leader remarks the senate will resume consideration of the motion to concur on the house message to accompany s*bgs 990, the legislative session vehicle for the patriot act extension. following the deadline -- filing deadline for all amendments is at 9:40. there will be a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to concur with respect to the patriot act. we're confident more roll call votes are possible and likely to occur during today's session. has the chair announced morning business? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the motion to concur in the house message to accompany s. 990, which the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to concur on the house amendment to s. 990, an act to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the small business act and so forth and
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for other purposes with an amendment. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 10:00 a.m. will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. mr. reid: mr. president, i would ask that the chair begin calling a quorum and that the time be equally divided between both sides. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader is recognized. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i'm going to proand my leader time. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized.
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mr. mcconnell: as we all know, the war on terror did not end last month when american forces shot and killed osama bin laden in abbottabad. general clapper, the director of national intelligence, twroat me yesterday to explain that this is a moment of elevated threat to our country and that the intelligence community is working to analyze the information gained at the bin laden compound. al qaeda and its associate groups remain a threat to the united states. and our intelligence community, military and law enforcement professionals still need the tools that enable them to gather and share intelligence in this fight. that's why all americans should be reassured today in knowing that these dedicated men and women will continue to have these tools. i have no doubt that the four-year patriot act extension that members of both parties have agreed to will safeguard us from future attacks. and that everything we agreed to in this extension is necessary for this fight.
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the f.b.i. director mueller has said all the authorities it contains are critical, all of the authorities it contains are critical. everyone requires the prior approval of an independent federal judge. nothing in this extension has ever -- ever -- been found to be unconstitutional, and most of these authorities have never even been challenged in court -- ever. the senate intelligence committee has conducted aggressive oversight of the programs authorized by these expiring provisions. over the past decade, we've seen how terrorists have proved themselves adaptable, how they've continuously altered their tactics and methods to strike us here at home. by extending this invaluable terror-fighting tool, we're staying ahead of them. now is not the time to surrender the tools authorized by this act or to make them more difficult to use. it was absolutely imperative that we renew these authorities
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under the patriot act. they've enable others to keep us safe for nearly a decade. our law enforcement officials have been able to use tools like these for years. we should be relieved and reassured to know they will not expire this week. now, mr. president, on another subject, last june the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mulen, made an observation that may surprise some people. a day afte tens of billions of s was not aproved, he said that the biggest threat to our national security, the biggest throat our national security according to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, is our debt. a few months earlier, the president himself identified the debt as a looming crisis. he pointed out that almost all
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of our long-term debt creelts to relates to the cough of medicare and medicaid. he said "if we don't get control of that, we can't get control over our budget." how right he was. but the cochair of the president's own debt commission may have put it best six weeks ago. speaking about the consequences of the fiscal path we're on, erskine bowles said simply, it's the most predictable crisis in our history. the most predictable crisis in history. that was a democrat talking, and yet democrats in the senate don't even want to talk about it. yesterday here in the senate democrats rejected every single proposal we've sean on our nation's fiscal future. they just simply took a pact. they've chosen to ignore this crisis, just like they've
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ignored the last one. three years ago as the financial crisis approached, the senior senator from new york was holding press conferences trying to link the war in iraq to what passed for an economic slowdown at the time. the majority leader was postponing votes that we all knew would fail so democrats who were running for president could be here to vote on them. now in the face of a looming crisis, we all admit is coming, they're doing the very same thing. this crisis is staring us right in the face, right in our face. the democrats themselves from the president on down say they see it. yet once again they're so focused on the next election, they refuse to do anything to upset the status quo. they're more concerned about their own jobs than preventing an economic catastrophe that could affect everybody else's job. they bant to wait this out while they hammer anybody who proposes a solution. they rejected their own president's budget. they rejected three republican budgets, and they haven't even bothered to offer a budget of
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their own. they're just marking time, treading water. so i think democrats have lost the right to express concern about this crisis. until they propose some solution of their own, they are part of the problem. the american people didn't send us here to hide in a corner until the next election. they sent us here to act on their behalf. and this is their message: if you see a crisis coming, you better do something about it. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will -- mr. mcconnell: i ask that the time under the quorum call be charged to both sides. the presiding officer: without objection.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia is recognized. mr. warner: mr. president, i would ask that the proceedings of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to concur on the house amendment to s. 990 with an amendment numbered 347 signed
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by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is: is it the sense of the senate that debate on the motion to concur in the house amendment to s. 990 with amendment number 347 offered by the senator from nevada, mr. reid, shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, on this vote, the yeas are 79, the nays are 18. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the
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motion is agreed to. cloture having been invoked, the motion to refer the house message fawssment falls. mr. reid: note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the senator from oregon is recognized. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. wyden: mr. president, i'm going to talk for just a couple of minutes about the issue of secret law that senator udall and i were both members of the
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intelligence committee have been working on for quite some time, and then i'm going to yield to our friend, the distinguished chairman of the intelligence committee, senator feinstein for a colloquy. mr. president, what this issue is all about is i believe there are two patriot acts in america. the first is the text of the law itself, and the second is the government's secret interpretation of what they believe the law means. and, as an example, several years ago americans woke up to learn that the bush administration had been secretly claiming for years that warrantless wiretapping was legal. this disclosure greatly undermined the public's trust in
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the department of justice and our national intelligence agencies, and it took congress and the executive branch years to sort the situation out. i believe, mr. president, that the american people will also be extremely surprised when they learn how the patriot act is secretly being interpreted, and i believe one consequence will be an erosion of public confidence that makes it more difficult for our critically important national intelligence agencies to function effectively. and, as someone who served on the intelligence committee for ten years, signature right next to senator feinstein, i don't want to see is that happen. let me yield now to senator udall. he will also have brief remarks. any colleagues who want to speak -- and then senator feinstein will lead us in the discussion of how we will be moving forward. so i want to yield to senator udall, who has been an invaluable member of the intelligence committee. he and i have worked on this since the day he joined our
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committee, and i am so appreciative of his involvement. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. udall: i thank the senator from oregon for his kind words. i also want to echo his remarks about the leadership of the chairwoman of the intelligence committee and her focus on keeping our country safe and our citizens protected. i did also want to make the point that like my colleague from oregon, i also oppose reauthorization of the expiring provisions in the patriot act without significant reforms, and i believe it's critical that the administration make public its interpretation of the patriot act so that members of congress and the public are not kept in the dark. mrs. feinstein: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california is recognized. mrs. feinstein: mr. president, i want to thank both senator wyden and senator udall for their comments, and we did have a meeting last night. we did discuss this thoroughly, and the decision was that we
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would enter into this colloquy, so i would like to begin it, if i may. these senators and i, along with the junior senator from oregon, senator merkley, and the senator from new mexico, senator tom udall, -- excuse me, the senator from testimony, mark udall, and the senator from rhode island, senator whitehouse, met last night to discuss this. the legal interpretation of the foreign intelligence surveillance act provisions and how these provisions are implemented. i very much appreciate the strong views that senator wyden and senator udall have in this area and believe that they are raising a serious and important point as to how exactly these authorities are carried out. i believe we are also all in agreement that these are
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important counterterrorism authorities and have contributed to the security of our nation. mr. wyden: mr. president, i have enormous respect for my special friend from california, the distinguished chair of the intelligence committee. i have sat next to her literally for more than a decade. we agree on virtually all of these issues, but this is an area where we have had a difference of opinion. i have said that i wouldn't support a long-term reauthorization of the patriot act without significant reforms, particularly in this area. i am especially troubled by the fact that the u.s. government's official interpretation of the patriot act is secret, and i believe, mr. president, that a significant gap has developed now between what the public thinks the law says and what the government secretly claims it says. that is why i and my colleagues from oregon, colorado, and new mexico have proposed an
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amendment that would make these legal interpretations public. mr. udall: mr. president? mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent that i be permitted to engage in a colloquy between senators udall, feinstein, and merkley. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: mr. president, let me say once again that like my colleague from oregon, i oppose reauthorization of the existing provisions that we've been debating here on the floor of the patriot act without significant reforms. i is also to say, i believe it's critical that the administration make public its interpretation of the patriot act so that members of congress and our public are not kept in the dark. that's the important work we have in front of us, and we have a real opportunity to accomplish those goals. mrs. feinstein: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: if i might respond, i have agreed that
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these are important issues, and that the intelligence committee, which is charged with carrying out oversight over the 16 various intelligence agencies of what's colte called the intellie community, should be carried out forthrightly. i also believe that the place to do it is in the intelligence committee itself. and i have said to these distinguished senators that it would be my intention to call together a hearing as soon as we come back from the memorial day break with the intellectua intee community agencies, the senior policy-makers, and the department of justice to make sure that the committee is comfortable with the fisa programs and to make changes, if changes are needed. we will do that. so it would be my intention to have these hearings completed before the committee considers
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the fiscal year 2012 intelligence authorization bill so that any amendments to fisa can be considered at that time, and the fact is that we do not usually have amendments to the intelligence authorization bill, but the majority leader, i believe, will do his best to secure a future commitment, if such is needed, for a vote on any amendment. i have not agreed to support any amendment because at this stage it is hypothetical, and we need to look very deeply into what these senators have said sand pointed out last night with specificity and get the response to it from the intelligence committee, have both sides hear it, and then make a decision that's based not only on civil liberties but also on the necessity to keep our country safe. and i believe we can do that. i'm very appreciative of their
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agreement to enter into this colloquy. mr. wyden: i thank the distinguished chair of the intelligence committee for proposing this course of action for addressing the secret law issue. obviously, colleagues would like more information on that, and they're going to be in a position to know that the intelligence committee is going to be examining it closely and i am just going to describe the next steps from there. senator udall and i have discussed this issue with senator reid, and senator reid indicated to us, to the chair, and myself and senator udall that we would have an opportunity, through these hearings -- and of course any amendments to the bill would be discussed on the intel authorization legislation, and that's a matter that obviously has to be classified. but if we were not satisfied, if
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we were not satisfied through that practices, we would have the ability to offer an amendment, such as our original one, on the floor, and of course the chair would still retain full rights to oppose it but we would make sure that if this issue of secret law wasn't fixed and that there wasn't an improved process to make more transparent and more open the interpretation of the law, not what are called sources and methods, which are so important to protect our people, we would have an opportunity, if it wasn't corrected in the intelligence community, to come to the floor and senator reid has just indicated to all of us that he would focus on giving us a vote, if we felt it was snea needed, on another bill -- not the intelligence authorization -- before september 30. so that there is a plan to
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actually get this fixed. that is what is key, and i think at this time i'd -- mr. udall: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. udall: as we begin to end this important coe coul queerks i want to acknowledge -- as we begin to end this important coul queerks i want to acknowledge the leadership of senator wyden on this matter. i also want to acknowledge the involvement of the senator from new mexico, who is presiding at this time, the senator from rhode island, mr. whitehouse, and the senator from oregon, mr. merkley, who have been very involved in bringing this to our attention. i also want to thank the chairwoman of the committee. she has shown a great willingness to work with everybody, to listen, and i have to say that i expect, once the committee examines this issue more closely, that i think many more of our colleagues will want to join news reforming the law -- to join us in r reforming the
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law in this eample area. mr. wyden: let me just make one more last comment. i also want to express my appreciations to senator merkley, who has been an extraordinarily outspoken advocate of our civil liberties and our privacy, in striking a good balance between fighting terror and protecting the rights of our people, and i have so appreciated his leadership on this issue, and let me just kind of sum up. first, i am very grateful to our chair and pleased with this agreement. the chair has indicated that she believes that those of us who want to reform secret law have raised a serious and important issue. those are her words. we are grateful for that, because we obviously feel very strongly about it. the chair has said that we would hold hearings promptly to examine the secret law issue, give serious consideration to looking at reforms in the fy
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2012 intelligence authorization bill, and then per our conversations with the majority leader, if senator udall and i felt that it had not been corrected on the intelligence authorization bill, we would have the right to offer -- and certainly the chair would oppose it -- an amendment here on the floor of the united states senate on a related bill. and senator reid to his great credit, nearchts to try to resolve this and move it along, said to the flee three of us that he would be working to do that. so, with that -- and again our thanks to the chair -- all my colleagues on the floor, senator merkley, who is not a member of the committee, knows an incredible amount about it -- and certainly he showed that last night in our discussions, was very helpful -- i want to yield to him. but, madam chair, with the
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cooperation that you have shown all of us who are trying to change this, and the efforts of senator reid to make sure that if we didn't work it out we could come back to the floor again, i would withdraw the wyden-udall amendment for the time-being, and it ought to be clear to everybody here in the united states senate we are going to continue to prosecute the cause of making more open and accountable the way the government interprets this law and making sure that the american people have the confidence that the way it's being interpreted is in line with the text of the legislation. and i would yield the floor, mr. president, and would withdraw at this time the wyden-udall amendment. mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon is recognized. mr. merkley: mr. president, thank you. and i am deeply appreciative of the dialogue that has just taken
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place. it was william pitt in england who commented that the wind and the rain can enter my house, but the king cannot. it captured the spirit and understanding of the balance between personal privacy, personal freedoms and issues of the crown regarding maintenance of security. and it was this underpinning that came -- this foundation that came in for our fourth amendment of our constitution, that lays out clear standards for the protection of privacy and freedoms. so, as we have wrestled with the standards set out in the patriot act, a standard which says the government may have access to records that are relevant to an investigation -- no that term is on the face --
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now, that term son the face quite broad and expansive, quite a low standard, if you will. but what happens when it's interpreted out of the sight of this chamber, out of the sight of the american people? that is the issue my colleague has raised. it's a very important issue. and i aplods the chair of intelligence for laying out a process whereby we all can wrestle with this issue in an appropriate venue and have a path for amendments in the committee or possibly here on the floor of the senate, because i do think it is our constitutional responsibility to make sure that the fourth amendment of the constitution is protected, the privacy and freedoms of citizens are protected. thank you to the senator from colorado, my senior colleague who has led this effort from
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oregon, my colleague from new mexico. and thank you to the chairwoman from california. fine thank you very much, and -- mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. i believe this concludes our colloquy. we yield the floor, and i thank the chair. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon is recognized. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. 1082 introduced earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 10282, a bill to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the small business act and the small business investment act of 1958 and for other
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purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection, so ordered. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent that the bill be read three times pafpbd, the motion to reconsider -- and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, and any statements relating to the matter be placed in the record as if read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that senator sessions be recognized to speak for up to 20 minutes for debate only. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama is recognized. mr. sessions: i would ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: the senator is informed we're not in a quorum call. mr. sessions: i thank the chair. mr. president, we had an
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unfortunate series of votes last night, in my opinion, because it was all arranged by the leadership in the senate to have a series of votes to do nothing. and the reason that's unfortunate is the votes we had dealt with a budget for the united states of america. and our congress is proceeding forward, the senate at least, with an idea that they don't have to have a budget. in fact, the majority leader, senator reid, said it would be foolish to pass a budget. and as one of the staffers said, well, if we pass a budget, we'll have to tell people how much we're going to raise their taxes and talk about spending reductions, and that won't be
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popular. and what did they do? one of the most incredible things i've ever seen in the senate. did they express regret that they couldn't pass a budget, that they would not state for the american people a vision for spending and financial future of america? no. what did they do? as the majority in the senate, they called up the budget passed by the house of representatives, which is a really historic budget, an honest budget that deals fairly and objectively with the challenges we're facing, reduces spending -- actually was able to reduce some taxes -- and proposed a decade out that the congress confront medicare, because it's going broke. so what did they do?
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they called up that budget. did they call it up to amend it? did they call it up to offer us a chance to debate it and fix anything anybody didn't like about it? no, that was not done. they stacked votes, three on four different budgets and projections and voted it down. they voted down every budget that was offered. now i have on my desk in my office the president's budget. it is about this thick. it's four volumes, hundreds of pages. and it lays out a budget. every president submits budgets. they have a 500-person office of management and budget staff. every year they produce a budget. the law requires them to produce
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a budget. here it is. this is a code, united states code annotated. and in this is the law that says the president should submit a budget and the date he should do it. it says that the united states senate should commence markup in the budget committee by april 1, and the congress should pass a budget by april 15. last i heard, april 15 has long since passed. now how do you get a budget out of committee and to the floor of the united states senate? what are we supposed to do by april 1? a chairman is supposed to call a markup, and he's supposed to bring up the budget that he proposes, offer it to the budget committee. it's open for amendment, change and debate, and then it's voted on. and a budget should then come out of the committee to the floor of the senate. it has skpaoe indicted procedures -- it has expedited
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procedures. but you are allowed to offer amendments and 50 hours of debate; not too much. it does not require the normal 60 votes we have to have for legislation here. it only requires a majority -- 50 votes. that's basically designed, frankly, when the people wrote the budget act back in the 1970's, to allow the majority party to be able to pass a budget, because there were too many filibusters of budgets and no budgets were getting passed. and if you've got the majority in the senate, at least you should be able to produce a budget so it provides a democratic majority, the 53 democratic senators that they have, the opportunity to produce a budget on a partisan basis if it can't be done on a bipartisan basis. so the normal process is you work with your colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and if you think a good agreement can be made in a bipartisan fashion, you do so and move a bipartisan budget.
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i remember last year when senator gregg, our republican ranking member, talked about his conversation with senator conrad. and he said he's not letting me see the budget. it's going to be produced the next morning. and what that means is he's going to produce a partisan budget. he doesn't want our opinion. he's not going to show us what's in his budget until the day of the hearing. so this year we wrote all the republican members -- i'm the ranking member now. we asked the budget chairman to show us his mark 72 hours before the hearing, because he hadn't consulted with us, and it appeared he was going to produce a partisan budget. actually told me that when the date the hearing would commence to mark up his budget, but he did decline to give us any advanced notice or opportunity to see what was in it. all i'm saying is the procedure is set up realistically, under
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the budget act, to allow the majority party to meet its responsibility to pass a budget. they don't have to have a single republican vote to pass a budget. better if you can get a bipartisan agreement, i think. oftentimes in the past there have been. but since budgets represent visions for america, oftentimes in recent years they have gone on pretty much a party line, but not 100%. that's what i would say. so the president submitted his budget, and it was roundly criticized around the country. and i was a very severe critic of it. so, we offered that budget last night. that was one of the four budgets that was offered. and we brought it up.
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it's the only democratic budget to be produced. i think the progressive caucus produced one in the house. but, of course, it didn't pass. it had a lot of tax increases, a lot of spending increases in it. it had no chance whatsoever of being passed. the american people sent us a message last year. they want us to get spending under control. they want us to reduce the size and scope of government. that's what they ask us to do. so the president's budget came up last night. 97-0, every democrat voted against the president's budget. well, they should, because it was unacceptable. i have referred to it as the most irresponsible budget in the history of our country because we are in a deeper financial
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hole than we've ever been. that's just a fact. and it's not a short-term little problem. it's a problem that's getting worse in the years to come, and so the nation has come to the conclusion -- the american people have, not this senate. the american people have come to the conclusion that we to pass, we need to change the trajectory of debt that we're piling on year after year, month after month, day after day, by the billions, trillions really. the president's budget as scored by the congressional budget office would produce uncontrolled debt year after year after year in amounts never before contemplated in our country. making the debt trajectory of our current baseline spending
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worse -- not better. i thought everybody understood we had to change and get better. the question was, i thought, when we came in with this congress, the debate would be over how much to change in the right direction, how much could we do to reduce the deficits, put us on a right path. not the president's budget. it made it worse. according to the c.b.o. that analyzed his budget and scored it, as we say, the lowest single deficit that that budget would produce is $750 billion. $748 billion, i believe. the lowest deficit to be produced under his ten-year budget. president bush was criticized for spending. the highest budget deficit he's had has been -- was $450
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billion. that's the highest president bush had, and he was criticized for that by many of my democratic colleagues quite vociferously. president obama is now heading to his third $1.5 trillion deficit. it looks like $1,500000,000,000, three times the size of president bush's highest. and it doesn't get -- as i said, the lowest deficit they projected is $748 billion, and it starts going back up again. and in its tenth year, according to the congressional budget office, the deficit will be $1.2 trillion. $1,200,000,000,000. it's an indefensible, irresponsible budget.
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i'm stunned it was presented here and has been widely criticized, as well it should. so it was voted down last night. so if you're going to vote down something, shouldn't you offer something in its place? that's what the fiscal commission that president obama appointed said. that was their rule and that's what they promoted publicly. if you oppose a budget, you should offer your own. and in fact after congressman ryan, who served on the fiscal commission with mr. bowles and senator simpson as cochairman derves a member of it -- and he produced a budget and they gave him great credit. they said he was honest and courageous, and ited the challenges of america, and it deserved respect and then said, but anybody that doesn't agree with that should follow our
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rule, which is show what you would do. so last night -- yesterday afternoon, we had the spectacle of democratic senators hammering and complaining about the ryan budget, which i -- is the most historical and responsible budget to be produced in decades, in my opinion. yes, it's not perfect. it is not perfect. it's perfectly acceptable to believe it ought to be amended. but it was an historic, honest attempt at 2k50e8in dealing wite fiscal challenges we face and would put us on a financial path to solvency and stability and eliminate the risk we are facing. probably should do more than he proposed. but it was courageous and bold and honest and without gimmicks, and i thought very impressive doctrine.
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i looked forward to debating it and parts of it in our budget committee. so what did we have last night -- yesterday? we -- they just brought it up and every democratic member voted it down. and why? because he had the gumption to actually suggest that for people 55 and below that we should begin to create a complair system that would be -- create a medicare system that would solvent and effective and save medicare, because the trustees have reduced the age again -- the year again at which it goes insolvent. so they have cleverly thought up this theory, senator reid had. senator schumer was explicit about it. so their theory was they wouldn't bring up their own budget. they wouldn't tell the american people how much they want to
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increase their taxes. they wouldn't tell the american people they were going to cut anything because that might make somebody unhappy and be unpopular. they would just call up the ryan budget and attack republicans as wangtszing to kill medicare. -- as wanting to kill medicare. what an irresponsible thing. and produced nothing in response. they don't have any plan to fix the situation we're in. and many a disappointed about that. i think it's unthinkable that we would be recessing and going home for a week without commencing markup, markup hearings in the budget committee to produce a budget that we are required by law to produce. it is unthinkable that we would do that.
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so i'll be presenting to the majority leader a letter today from senators on our side of the aisle, large numbers of senators have already just signed it and said, we don't need to go home until we've confronted this problem and you've shown us how we're going to move forward to meet our statutory responsibility to pass a budget. i think that's reasonable. that's what we're going to be asking today. and i'm not going to vote to go home without having met our duty. we call up our young men and women in uniform. we say, you will go to iraq for a year. they say, well, i'd rather not go. it's in your crrkts you signed up, you have to go, it's your duty. they say, yes, sir," and they go. many of them have lost lives and
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limbs, we ought to remember this memorial day. but don't we have a duty? don't we have a duty here? i think we dovment i think we have a duty to the united states of merveg tof america to produc, whether or not it is law. this is the code book in which it is found, the united states code. that's our duty. we don't need to be going home until we fulfill it, and we have a plan to go forward with it. i just want to say that this is not a little by thety matter b a little bitty matter with me. we are not going to have four votes, as we did yesterday, and then that's going to go away and the majority leader is going to say, seekers it's foolish to produce a busmght i told you we shouldn't produce a budget. we're not going to fool with having a budget this year.
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it's been 757 days since the senate has had a budget because the majority leader didn't brip a majority last year -- didn't bring up a budge budget last yer eempleeither.we spend $3.7 trile take in only $2.2 trillion. and experts in financial -- and financial wizards all over the world are telling you what are you doing in the united states? you are about to threaten the world's most prominent economy t could have worldwide ramifications. our debt to g.d.p. compares with portugal and spain, almost as high as greece. it'll be 100% by september 30 of this year, our grass domestic product. and we are going to go away
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again without a budget 3 and the people who have been asked to be given the leadership responsibility in the congress can't even comply with the budget act?, they've refused to stand before the american people and say what they want to tax, what they want to spend what they want to cut. because it wouldn't be popular, it would be foolish. i don't think so. it is not acceptable. you asked to be the leader of this congress. you asked to be the president of the united states. submit a responsible budget, an honest budget, a fact-based budget, a budget that the american people have an opportunity to understand, to read and study before we vote, and if it is not a good vote, they need to know we cast a bad vote and they can throw some people out of congress. they threw some people out last fall. you would have thought we had gotten the message. doesn't look lik like it.
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business as usual. we are in denial. we don't have to change. oh, no, you can't cut this spending program. what do you mean you can't cutting spending program? give me a break. the alabama governor, dr. bently, just had to announce a 15% reduction in discretionary spending. proreagan administration of spending in alabama, reducing it by 15%. why? he didn't have the money. is that something we've forgotten in washington, when you don't have money, you shouldn't spend it? you say it's all because of this economy or something else. look ... under president obama%, non-defense discretionary spending in two years went up 24%. and we're going broke and we're increasing spending on all the
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government programs on average. in two years we've increased it 24% -- over 12% a year? you know, if you double -- if your interest is 7% on your money, the value of your money will double in ten years at 12%, i guess the size of government would increase double in six or seven years. great scott! no wonder people are upset with us. so we've been spending incredibly recklessly. and also the 12% increase i mention, 24% increase in two years, that does not include the stimulus package, the almost $900 billion stimulus package that was thrown out the door with almost no oversight rs, and it was just designed to spend. and do you remember it was supposed to stimulate the economy? and we've had the slowest
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rebound from a recession we probably have ever had? i think ever had. it's been a very shaky recovery. they said, well, we should have spent more. but rogoff and reinhardt tells us when your debt gets as high that is in the united states, when it gets that high, then you can't -- you begin to show a decline in growth. 1% of g.d.p. growth is reduced when your debt reaches 90% of g.d.p., and we reached that this year, and we'll go over -- go to 100% by september 30. so this is the budget that was submitted to us. they got a big staff over there. they maintain it. many of them have been there a lot of years. the president submitted to us a
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budget, it was rejected yesterday 97-0. it confirms the fact that we don't have a legitimate budget buffs. the president's budget has been rejected utterly. the democrats have refused to produce one. well, why don't you say -- why don't you just have a hearing and offer your budget? i can't call a hearing. the chairman calls the hearing. the majority leaders confer and tell the chairman when it call a hearing. they've decided not to call a hearing so we don't have an opportunity to go to the budget committee and pass a budget. we had such tremendous interest in a lot of the new people that got elected to the senate last fall. they wanted to be on the budget committee. they traveled their states. they had heard from their people all over their states that they wanted us to control spending. they wanted to be on the committee.
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and so it was the committee which had more interest and more people pushing to be on it than any other committee, and we finally selected our fabulous group of people to serve on the committee. now we don't meet? now we're not even going to morning a budget? -- going to mark up a budget? what a disappointment for those new members coming here with vim and vigor and ready to do something about the future of the republic. you know, one of the things that was interesting about the president's budget that they all voted down is how much praise it got from our democratic colleagues who voted it down last night when it came out. this is what senator schumer said about it. "this is a responsible proposal. i believe this approach should have bipartisan support."
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senator bill nelson, "i personally think the president's budget is a step in the right direction." senator max baucus, "the president's budget strengthens our economy." senator ben cardin, "president obama has given us a credible blueprint." senator tom carper, "the president's budget is an important step forward." senator frank lautenberg, "president obama's budget presents a careful evaluation of what our nation needs." they all voted "no" last night. well, with frentdzs like that, you -- well, with friends like that you don't need enemies, as they like to saivment we will, , mr. bowles talked about the budget. he was rather stunned actually when it came out. came out i think on friday. and on sunday mr. bowles said,
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"it comes nowhere close to where they will have to go to avoid a fiscal night maimplet -- nightm" this is a man that president obama chose to head the deficit commission and he hammered this budget. said it is nowhere close. and it's nowhere close to doing what we have to do. so i just believe that what we went through yesterday was a sham, a mockery, a joke, had no meaning, it was nothing but politics, nothing but an avoidance of responsibility to help provide leadership. now, look ... we all know some serious choices have been made, and -- have to be made and i close with these thiewtz. we're going to need a
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partnership in the senate between our parties. there are going to be some tough choices to be made. in my view, we simply cannot continue at our rate of spending and it's got to be reduced. but we have people in denial. they did not think it has to be reduced. but when your lowest deficit in ten years is projected to be $740 billion, and this year's deficit would be the highest in the history of the republic -- $1,500,000,000,000 or so, they were saying $1.6 trillion more recently -- how do we get there? we're going to have to make some work. so you've saluted the gang of six that tried. apparently it's fallen on hard times and the prospects aren't good for that. okay. now the vice president is meet
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pg. there's some excuse, they say, that we don't have to do openly and before the public what our business is and stand up and be counted because that won't work. people are afraid to make tough choices and make tough decisions in public. well, i think the american people are not happy with us. i know they're not happy with us. 70% believe this country is on the wrong track and the biggest part of that surely is our fiscal management of this country. they know this debt cannot be sustained. and so we need to do something. the best way to do it is to follow the regular order. to follow the legally constituted budget process. let's have a budget committee. if the gang of six has some budget ideas, let's bring them
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up in the budget committee and vote on them. if vice president biden wants to send something over, i'm glad to hear it. if the president wants to send his team down to defend this thing, it's been rejected 97-0, let's hear him come down and defend. i'll tell you what he said and what his budget director, mr. liu, said. they said -- can you believe this? -- they said this budget will allow us to live within our means and not spend money we don't have. that's the way they promoted this budget that was rejected last night. if it caused us to live within our means -- they even said it would allow us to pay down our debt -- if it did that, i would vote for it. didn't come close. nowhere close to that. yet the president talked about it all over the country and his staff ran around saying this budget is going to allow us to
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live within our means. and it's totally inaccurate. that's irresponsible. what the president should have done and what our democratic leaders have to help us with is they've got to go to the american people and with clari clarity, without equivocation say we cannot continue, big changes have to be made, we don't like it, we're so sorry that this congress and this country has gotten in the shape we are but we've got to save it and we're going to make some choices. we urge you to help us stick together so we can do it and make -- and put the country on the right path. what do we have? we have in congressman ryan and the republican house had the temerity, the courage and the discipline, the sense of duty sufficient to pass a budget that
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would actually do what needs to be done. they called it up and attack it with everything they have and not produce anything of their own. i think that's a failure of leadership, cannot be denied, in my view, and i believe we're going to -- the process we're on now is dangerous, it's not public, it's secret. they tried to produce a secret plan to comprehensively reform immigration. the american people got on that and down it went. they tried to negotiate in secret this health care reform bill. they were able to hold their votes on a straight party-line vote, 60-40, the bill passed, but the american people were not happy. they weren't happy with the process, they weren't happy with the results, and a lot of people who participated in that spectacle didn't come back after this last election.
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so we -- that's not the path that we're hearing from our constituents. our stitch weren't saying, you work for us. we want to see you publicly stand up and defend the values we believe in. and if you don't do so, we're going to hold you accountable. i think that's democracy in america. i think it's healthy. i don't think there's anything wrong with it. i respect the american people who are watching congress and demanding we change the trajectory we are on. so, mr. president, i believe strongly that we need to do better. i believe strongly that this congress should be -- have in play and commence before we recess, or not recess, a plan to deal with the financial crisis our nation faces. when we do that, we can feel like we're fulfilling our duty,
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both in law and morally, to the people who've given us the honor of serving in this body. i thank the chair, would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from illinois is recognized. a senator: mr. president, i ask that we suspend -- are we in a
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quorum call? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. without objection, so ordered. mr. kirk: okay, thank you. mr. president, last week i spoke on the floor regarding the resignation of mr. dominique strauss can, who is the managing director of the international monetary fund due to the serious criminal charges he is now facing in new york state. he has since resigned but it now appears that he will receive at least a $250,000 taxpayer-funded severance pay package from the i.m.f. and may be eligible for further undisclosed amounts from annual i.m.f. retirement benefits. since the united states is the largest contributor to the i.m.f., we now face the potential scenario where the american taxpayer is partly underwriting severance payments and retirement packages to a man who is pending criminal conviction as a felon. it's clearly unacceptable and it is my hope that the united states executive director to the
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i.m.f., meg ludsinger, advocates that no future benefits passed to mr. dominik strauss-kahn, if he is convicted of the crimes with which he is charged. mr. president, as you know, the i.m.f. is now spearheading efforts to manage a very wide, indeed, european debt crisis. despite my reservations about u.s. taxpayer bailouts for greece, for ireland and for portugal, the institution does play a very critical role in financial leadership, and i think it needs to set an examp example, h, especially with regd to its now disgraced leader. mr. strauss-cahn has clearly failed to live up to the expectations of his institution and what the american taxpayers support. and with that, i'd like to turn to a separate subject.
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mr. president, the u.s. treasury is scheduled to borrow over $1.4 trillion this year and we have a scheduled interest payment of over $220 billion. we will pay more in interest this year than we do to the cost of the united states army. i am very concerned about this situation and also an underreported financial situation developing in american states. the situation in my home state of illinois and the state of california is the most dire. i would regret my attempt by these states to seek a federal bailout to defend the full faith and credit of 9 united states -- credit of the united states, i think that we should move forward with a resolution that i introduced with a number of other senators, s. res. 188, that expresses the sense of the senate that we should have no federal bailout for the states. this is an issue that has concerned the senate once
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before. in the 1840's, we faced a funding crisis of the states. the united states senate wisely advised then-secretary of the treasury daniel webster to seek and/or report on any discussions that he might have had that could have led to guaranteeing state debt. it was the senate's express resolution that prevented treasury secretary webster from bailing out the states then. the crisis at the time was even reflected in charles dickens' famous book "a christmas carol" in which scrooge was described as someone who was less than wealthy because he overinvested in what were called united states sovereigns. the phrase in "a crystal carol is" not worth a united states sovereign "because of the spendthrift policies of many state governments at the time. the u.s. senate at that time took the correct action to
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prevent the spendthrift actions of several states from contaminating and ruining the credit rating of the united states itself. our credit rating is already under stress, with reports especially by standard and poor's that we may face a loss in the aaa credit rating invented to symbolize the strength of the united states if we don't change a spending course soon. a way to accelerate that loss of a aaa credit rating is to guarantee or somehow bail out spendthrift states like illinois or california. in illinois, we have a very courageous state treasurer who just took office and made a clear statement. treasurer dan rutherford has told the leaders of my own state that they need to stop borrowing, that they need to stop spending, and he is seeking no federal bailout for his state. the state situation is quite
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dire. by one estimate, the revenues and pensions of the state of illinois are the worst funded in america. less than 40% of the pensions by one estimate have not -- have been funded. with this type of track record, you could see a situation in which california or illinois in a crisis would seek a bailout from the senate and from the house. i think we should repeat the wise precedent set in the 1840's, the advice that we sent to treasury secretary daniel webster to set a clear marker for our own treasury secretary to make sure that there is no bailout for the states. to protect our credit rating, i think this action is necessary, especially to reassure the credit rating agencies. and what would happen if we don't? could we provide temporary benefits to illinois and california? we could. could we underwrite their policies of spendthrift ways? we could.
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would we accelerate a loss of the aaa credit rating of the united states? we could. we already see an example of what happens when you drive your national economy off a cliff. many of us originally hail from our long time ancestors and past from ireland, and recently the irish government finance collapsed as they lost their credit rating. because interest rates spiked in that country so fast, 53% of mortgages in ireland were foreclosed in a short space of time after the loss of their credit rating. we need to act to protect the people of the united states from such an economic fate. that's why we need to say no to any state bailouts, why we need to cut spending here in washington and why we need to make sure that at all costs we defend the credit rating of the united states. it's our sacred duty here to make sure that what is befalling the people of greece and the people of portugal and the
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people of ireland being misruled by governments that said yes to every special interest spending idea and no to their economic future does not infect the credit rating of the united states. that's why this resolution is needed and that's why i'm so proud to introduce it today in the full and complete historic financial tradition of the united states senate. and with that, mr. president, i yield back.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from oklahoma is recognized. mr. inhofe: thank you, mr. president. i understand we're not in a quorum call right now. the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. inhofe: i ask unanimous consent that i be recognized for ten minutes as if in morning business. mr. president, i introduced a bill, s. 1085, last -- i guess this morning, and i have some cosponsors, including senator snowe from maine. it addresses something that's become very controversial. it's certainly not partisan in any way. it's more geographical. that is i have been one who has been opposed to the -- the coronet knoll mandates ever since they -- to the corn ethanol mandates ever since they first came out. i opposed the 2007 energy bill because it doubled the corn-based ethanol mandates, despite the mounting questions
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surrounding ethanol's compatibility with existing engines. its environmental sustainment as well as transportation and infrastructure needs. i remember back when they first did it, all the environmentalists were saying corn ethanol is going to be the answer, we're all for it, but they are against it now. they all recognize that corn ethanol is bad for the environment. now, the three areas that we have -- i personally have a problem is, number one, the environment. number two, you have a compatibility situation. you talk to any of the farmers, any of the marine people, and they will tell you that they -- that it's very destructive to the small engines. and thirdly, everyone's concerned with the high price of fuel with the fact that corn ethanol is not good for your mileage. chris kaiser of the outdoor power equipment manufacturers testified before the environment and public works committee on ethanol's compatibility or lack of compatibility with more than
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200 million legacy engines across america, which aren't designed to run on certain blends of ethanol, and i'll quote her testimony before our committee now. she said, "in the marine industry, if your machine fails and your engine fails and you are 30 miles offshore, it's a serious problem. or if you're in a snow machine and it fails in the wilderness, it's a serious problem. consumers complain about the decreasing fuel efficiency, and corn ethanol contains 67% of the b.t.u. of gasoline. we call it clear gas. and by the way, this is a good time to say we're not talking about biomass. we're only talking about corn ethanol. another problem that i have in my state of oklahoma is we're a big cattle state, and that has driven the cost of feed stock up to a level that's not acceptable. according to the e.p.a., vehicles operating on e-85 ethanol experience a 20% to 30%
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drop in miles per gallon due to ethanol's lower energy content. "consumer reports" found that e-85 resulted in a 27% drop in fuel. now, as a result of all this, you drive around oklahoma -- first of all, we're here in washington. it's my understanding there is no choice in washington or virginia or maryland, in those areas. in my state of oklahoma, we still have a choice, and the choice is very clear of the people in my state of oklahoma. the problem is the way this is set up, we will run into a barrier where they will no longer have clear gas available in the current formulas. for that reason, we have people who at almost every station -- you see at the majority of the stations in oklahoma, you have signs like this. put up the other signs here. and then -- you have two or three of those. yeah, here it is. let's just leave that one up. ethanol three, 100% gasoline. this is all over my state of oklahoma.
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well, there is a solution to this problem, and it's one that i have introduced in this bill. before describing that, i think the most pressing issue of the so-called blend wall is the e.s.a.-mandated 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol by 2015, but today it's readily apparent that the country can't physically absorb this much ethanol. it's too much too fast. in oklahoma, the blend wall has nearly confused the choice. gas station owners have little option but to sell ethanol-blended gasoline despite strong consumer demand for clear gas. there is consumer demand all over my state of oklahoma. so what's the solution? i introduced a very simple five-page bill. the bill would allow individual states to opt out of the mandate. now, it would require that their state legislature wants this and that they pass a resolution, it's signed by the governor, and they would be able to opt out.
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the state would pass the bill, it's signed by the governor stating its election to exercise this option. the administrator of the e.p.a. would then reduce the amount of the national corn ethanol mandate by the percentage amount of gasoline consumed by that state. this option of nonparticipation would only apply to the corn portion of the r.f.s. and would not affect any of the volumetric requirements of advanced biofuels. we're big in advanced biofuels in my state of oklahoma. the various foundations, oklahoma state university, we have switch grass we're working on, and it's something that we're all for. it -- the bill actually redefines cellusic biofuels as next generation biofuel. the previously defined celluosic biofuel carveout is expanded to include algae and other nanette
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knoll renewable fuels derived from renewable biomass. so this is something that is not going to be incompatible. it's going to be very compatible with -- with our interest here. so anyway, for those people who say well, you know, we demand to have corn-based ethanol, that's fine, you can have it because all this is is choice. if we and the people of my state of oklahoma want to have a choice of clear gas or corn ethanol, they should be able to do it. i honestly don't think there is a legitimate argument against that. so i plan to try to get some cosponsors. i think my good friend from florida might be interested in cosponsoring something like this because this gives choice to the people of his state as well as my state. now, with that, i just want to mention one other thing, if i could, mr. president. you can go ahead and take that if you want to. i have made four speeches on the
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floor the last month about the disaster, the catastrophe that's taking place in a country in west africa called coate did a advisory. -- called cote d'voire. gbagbo and his wife simone. someone with a rigged election came in. that was certified. it was all set up before we knew what was going on. that individual, his death squads today, this very moment as we speak are roaming the streets there. he is murdering and he is raping. right now they have in captivity gbagbo, the legitimate president of that country. no one knows it. we had a hearing. the state department was totally without any kind of compassion or concern over what's happening in the streets of be a i -- of
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abijan. we saw, we witnessed on video of the helicopters coming through and destroying that city. as we -- we have friends there right now who tell us that even today the death squads of the leader are roaming the streets, murdering the people. no one can say within 10,000 people how many people they have murdered. my concern is this. it's too late to do anything about that. they have rigged the election. i documented it. i sent the documentation to the state department. they paid no attention to it. it was france who was behind the whole thing. france wants to have as much control as they can in west africa, obviously. they somehow conned the united nations into it. and of course our state department went along with it. well, what's happening right now is so inhumane, it just -- it's impossible for me. i wish i had the pictures that i showed before. the beautiful first lady


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